I was speaking with someone yesterday morning about Derren Brown, a once magician thats now turned superstar, well I guess mentalist (thats being able to seemingly control, read or manipulate someones mind, as opposed to just being a complete nutter!)
I find everything he does insanely interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly its incredibly clever, I can say that I know he doesnt use stooges, or actors in the sets he does, as really there is no need to. and secondly, its just insanely clever
Derren uses a number of techniques to get the response he needs from subject. These include, but are not limited to, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Cold Reading, Suggestion, Waking Hypnosis, body language, behavioural trends (eye movement, muscle reading and more)
I knew of Derren along time ago, when I used to go to magic conventions alot.. he was funny then and more than a great ‘close-up’ magician. Over the last year or so I’ve read a lot of his books and manuscripts that he wrote and compiled during that transition from magic to mind, although he still says that his current career is a mix of magic and suggestion..
So how does he do what he does… Lets take the case I was talking about;
A women is taken into a room, shes stood in front of a window and spoken to about whats going to happen.. shes then taken to the side of the room and asked to walk across it (back to Derren) and stop at some point, Derren closes his eyes and grasps his hand into a fist at the point he wants her to stop. funnily enough she stops (without being able to see derren) at the point he makes a fist.
She’s then brought back to the side of the room and asked to walk across its entire width. Again, without her seeing Derren makes a fist and she stops, this time unable to move from the spot, and clearly stating that she is ‘stuck’ and ‘unable to move her feet’
So how does this work ? Derren uses (I believe) a number of techniques here;
Interruption of her habitual framework, which in turn leads to a state of hypnosis, Anchoring, and the rest.. is showmanship (or something I call showboating, which is doing something to make it look like your doing it, but your not!)
so lets start at the beginning..
Interruption of her hibitual framework..
you can use something as casual as a handshake to break someone’s thought patterns, and to alter their state. Is is essentially a surprise that interrupts a subject’s habitual framework to initiate a momentary confusion. A receptivity for clarifying suggestions is thus initiated with an expectancy for further stimuli and direction. in basic terms to confuse their brain.. and their brain has no habitual response.. it doesnt know what to do.. and I suppose in technical terms ‘crashes’.
Derren doesnt use a handshake here, he uses an audible version of this, coupled with some NLP the conversation was something along the lines of;
‘right.. Put your hand up and push against mind and look at teh light from the window and look at the window. its late november its only 29 stopping days till christmas, stopping days that, and your stopping for gift and into the stopping fillers your putting the gifts that your brought the stopping days that your had and the window its bright and all the time your stopping with the window and the gifts on the Right thanks come over here now..’
now the conversation was fast and if you read it very disjointed and confusing… the words shop and shopping are swapped for stop, and stopping, this would confuse her brain even if she didnt know about it… what hes doing here is using Milton Ericksons techniques to put her into a hypnotic state and open to suggestion. Hes also Anchoring the window, with the idea of stopping. He swaps very fast and almost mid sentance and agin confusing the brain.
Everything else here is pure showmanship. she is already conditioned to stop at a point (funnily enough the point she was stood on during the conditioning), he would have then counted the steps she took from there to where he starts her walking from, the floor is a wooden one and creates very loud audiable noises as someone walks over it…
Even with his eyes closes he can recount the steps and tell when shes on the same spot again. just before she gets there he can make a fist and she herself will stop (showboating!). She is more than likely also stuck here, but as yet doesnt know.. Derren calls her back and again the wording is important here ‘yes you can come back here now, turn around and you can walk back’ NOT ‘if you’d like to come back’ or ‘please come back’. He’s giving her instructions and saying she CAN come back.
The second time round he doesnt say this when she stops, and therefore she cannot move, her mind believes and in following the instruction to STOP. Derren says ‘now I told you to walk right across the floor, so what happened, why have you stopped?’
To release her its a simple ‘yes you can.. do it.. look you can move your feet’